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The Constitution: A Model for Your Organization

constitution Today in the United States, we’re inaugurating Barack Obama as our 44th President today. It’s both a celebration and an orderly transfer of power.

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marylynn
I can hear “Hail to the Chief” being played. I just love that song!

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georgeI got inaugurated once. I was on the speech team in Junior High School. I’m dating myself here, but I played Gerald Ford taking the oath. So I tripped … I mean stepped … up to the microphone, held up my right hand, and said, “I, Gerald R. Ford, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

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Yes, all Presidents solemnly swear to uphold the Constitution. We hadn’t thought about this for some time, but we started discussing the purpose of a Constitution.

The United States Constitution itself tells us. It begins with the famous line “We the People of the United States” and then goes into the reasons for the document:

“in Order to form a more perfect Union”
At least we know that the Founding Fathers were realists – they didn’t expect a “perfect” union! They just felt the Constitution would help make things better.

“establish Justice”
It was important to establish laws so that every man and woman was treated the same. 

“ensure domestic Tranquility”
The Constitution allows for peaceful disagreement and debate.

“provide for the common defence”
It was important to determine how the safety of the citizenry would be insured.

“promote the general Welfare”
But it goes beyond safety. The Constitution also maps out how to make things better for the people of the country.

“secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity”
This document should insure the freedom of its citizens now and in the future.

Now think about that list. These are the reasons why the Founding Fathers felt it was important to have a Constitution.

But this isn’t a civics lesson. Which is good because we sure wouldn’t be qualified to talk about it! But it made us think …

Aren’t those good reasons for us to have a Constitution in our organizations?

A framework for growth

As small business owners, we often run from structure. We are rebels at heart. We like to break the rules. These characteristics are part of what lead to the success of many small business owners. However, this lack of structure is also what keeps many of their businesses really small.

So does your organization need a Constitution? If you want to establish a framework to grow your business and insure that all people in your organization get treated fairly, then YES!

The Constitution as a model

To find out how to establish a framework for your organization, look at the Constitution.

Set down governing principles.
This list of principles expresses the Core Values of the organization. All decisions should be congruent with these principles.

Establish a structure. How is it organized? This helps us see the bigg picture. Think about your Mission.

Define procedures. How is it run? How do we do things around here? It doesn’t set the ceiling for idealistic behavior, but it does establish a floor. What is the minimum acceptable behavior? Think of this as your Operations Manual.

Describe duties. What are the obligations of the people involved? Think Job Descriptions.

Delineates powers.  What are the boundaries within which the people involved must operate? What resources are available to help them do their jobs? Does this sound like an Employee Handbook?

Can you imagine what our lives would be like without our Constitution? While none of us would say everything runs perfectly, they certainly run more smoothly because of our system of government. Using the Constitution as a model for your organization is a great way to form a more perfect union …

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Thanks so much for stopping by today. Join us next as we begin a three-part series on heroes. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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How to Get Your Employees to Own Their Job, Not Just Do It

employee As business owners, we’re told that we should work on our business, not in it. But how do you do that when you’re just getting started? How can you do that if you don’t have any employees? Here’s the secret …

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At first, you work on your business by working in your business.

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george
Mary-Lynn’s always trying to get me out of the business!

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Seriously though, you begin working on your business by documenting your procedures, position by position, as you work in your business. Before you hire your first employee, it’s essential to put this structure in place so that, when you do hire someone, you can train him or her them effectively.

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marylynn My favorite General Managers in radio had worked in all areas of the business. They had been on the air. They had produced commercials. They had sold commercials. So they knew the business because they had worked the whole business.

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As a new business owner, you do that anyway, right? All you have to do is document what you do, position by position. Maybe you don’t do it all – you’re not comfortable with accounting, for example. So you get a partner who documents the procedures for those positions. Or you outsource them.

You’ll work through each position that your business will need. As you do, you will document every task that your business performs.

This leads to your employees OWNING their jobs

Now you’re going to build upon the work you’ve done. Put together two or more procedures and you have a process. Two or more processes start to build your system. You’ll end up with a full-fledged Operations Manual.

You get there by working on your business as you work in your business. Because while you’re doing that, you can test your procedures to make sure they are effective and efficient.

Assume you own a retail store. You would want to greet your customers as they come into your store. Here’s a typical conversation:

You: “Hi, may I help you?”

Customer: “No, I’m just looking.”

End of conversation.

Michael Gerber, in his great book The E-Myth Revisited, said he has consulted with retailers who increased sales by 10 to 16 percent when the following question was asked:

“Hi, have you been in here before?”

Now, if the customer says “Yes”, you can offer a special program for repeat customers. If the customer says “No”, you can make another offer for new customers.

So you set up one procedure to greet your customers. Then you test it. That’s working on your business. You’ll have a separate procedure to promote your special offer for customers. These two procedures are the beginnings of your process.

Keep doing this, procedure by procedure, process by process until you have a complete operating system. Document that and you have your Operations Manual.

Now when you hire an employee and start to train him or her, you can involve them in the process because you have it in writing. You’re ready for the five step process for training your employees.

Since you’ve tested your procedures, you can tell your new employee why you do things the way you do. This helps them understand the idea behind the procedure which helps get their buy in.

You’ll also tell your employee that your testing isn’t over yet. In fact, you want them to help you test new ideas. You’ll emphasize that it’s important to follow your system, but you also want them suggesting ways to improve how you do things.

That’s how you get employees who don’t just do their jobs; they own them!

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Next time, we’ll look at an inexpensive way for families to connect and compete. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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